Students' Site Solicits Allegations of CU Bias · 19 January 2004

Filed under: Press Coverage

Students' Site Solicits Allegations of CU Bias
College Republicans say Faculty Liberally Slanted

By Dave Curtin--Denver Post, 01/20/04

Conservative students at the University of Colorado at Boulder can now document alleged discrimination by left-leaning faculty on a website started by a student Republican leader.

"Classes are starting, which means ... we might be welcomed with an onslaught of indoctrination," wrote Brad Jones, chairman of the College Republicans, in an e-mail introducing the site, which debuted last week. "If your biology professor chooses to talk about how (Howard) Dean is the best Democratic candidate instead of explaining how cell reproduction works, we need to hear about it."

Jones and the CU College Republicans are affiliated with Students for Academic Freedom, a national organization started by California conservative activist David Horowitz, who is pushing a Colorado effort to protect students from harassment or discrimination based on their political beliefs.

State Senate President John Andrews, R-Centennial, called for all state universities to submit their anti-discrimination policies in November. Last month he held an informal legislative hearing to listen to student complaints. And last week, 14 conservative lawmakers introduced a resolution calling for the defense of students' First Amendment rights, including expression "based solely on viewpoint."

Most faculty and many Democrats deny liberal indoctrination exists on campuses and say lawmakers should focus on funding a depleted state higher-education system.

"I'm shocked the students would resort to this," said Barbara Bintliff, a CU law school professor and chairwoman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly. "I'm concerned they may wind up with a blacklist or engage in an attempt to censure certain professors."

Jones, 20, says the strategy is not a witch hunt but an effort to collect evidence.

The CU website is among the first of its kind, said Sara Dogan, national coordinator of Students for Academic Freedom. The University of Texas-Austin has a "Professor Watch List." Two national groups post student complaints from across the nation - and Students for Academic Freedom.

"We want concrete examples of bias in our arsenal when we go to the administration, the regents and the legislature," CU's Jones said in an interview. "When liberals - including leaders of student government - say there's no evidence, that's not true. But we can do a better job of cataloging it.

"Classes just started a week ago and already we're getting reports of students required to buy textbooks representative of one ideology," Jones said.

Another conservative student complained that his business-law professor intends to talk a lot about abortion, Jones said.

"What does abortion have to do with business law?" Jones asked. "If this is what's going on in college classrooms, the citizens of Colorado have a right to know."

Complaining students weren't identified by Jones and are unwilling to comment now, he said. While the students must identify themselves to log a complaint, the complaints don't become official and aren't posted until Jones verifies their veracity. Students will be named publicly only with their permission, he said.

"Some students don't want their names associated until after the semester because there's a real concern they will be negatively impacted by coming forward," Jones said.

The complaint form, entitled "Report Bias," is linked to the CU College Republicans website at CURepublicans. It also requires students to name the professor and detail the bias.

Campus Democrats say conservative students are chasing ghosts rather than concentrating on the real problems.

"I don't think that bias on campus is really an issue, whether liberal or conservative," said Travis Leiker, 22, president of the College Democrats at CU. "From my experience in four years here, once you enter the classroom, it's a joining of different perspectives and ideas. I think the conservative students who feel there is a bias are more afraid of hearing points of view different from their own. I don't think they should be threatened by that.

"You don't see College Democrats doing this with the business or engineering school, which clearly have a conservative bias," Leiker said. "We could play this game as well."

Students of all political persuasions should unite to solve key issues in state higher education, Leiker said.

"Why don't we come together and try to solve the real problems of higher education like funding, large classes, lack of professors and resources?" he asked.

Jones suggests students talk to their professor and attempt to resolve the issue before filing a complaint.

"This is not useful for pursuing every single instance of bias. This is to dispel the myth that there is no issue," Jones said. "We want good, credible examples we can take to the legislature."